Under a new proposal, the three main Tricare options — Tricare Prime, Tricare Standard and the services used by retirees–would be combined into two basic plans. The proposed changes in the Pentagon’s fiscal 2017 budget are confusing for military family advocates — because they focus almost completely on “fee increases without detailing care reforms,” according to Military.com
In other words, there’s an increase in fees with no clear understanding of what the increase in value will be. Jeremy Hilton – who lobbies for military family benefit safety – said: “… if it’s simply increasing fees for fees’ sake then that’s just going back to balancing the budget on the back of our retirees — and that doesn’t make any sense.”
Dana Atkins, a retired Air Force lieutenant general said: “We were hoping to see some specific proposals to address well-documented problems with access, continuity of care, referrals, National Guard and Reserve programs and other documented health care issues, but so far, we’re left asking, ‘Where’s the substance?”
Retiree families who currently use Tricare Prime pay about $560 for their annual enrollment fee. Those who use the Standard plan don’t have to pay a fee. However under the new plan, both groups would have to pay fees of $700 or $900 for families. Retired families under 65 who use in-network providers are likely to see an increase of $500 to $600 per year under the proposal while those who use out-of-network providers will likely face an increase of over $1,000 per year– according to the Military Officers Association of America.
Other fees that would increase for all groups include the catastrophic caps. Active-duty members’ caps would change to $1,500 while retirees would have a $4,000 cap.
A Defense Department report on the system is expected to be released in March. All of the Armed Forces committees in the House and Senate will examine the proposal before legislation is drafted.
Current congressional hearings are examining whether or not the military treatment facilities are “meeting their primary role of promoting military readiness — and how that readiness should be defined.”
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